Zesty Lentil Spinach Salad

This zesty lentil spinach salad is a delightful mixture of textures and flavors. It's hearty and filling, thanks to the lentils, while the spinach adds a fresh note. The lemon and feta cheese bring a zesty kick, making this salad exciting and far from boring.

Zesty Lentil Spinach Salad
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Our main ingredients, black beluga lentils, can be found in most grocery stores in the dried beans section, but if you have trouble finding them, any small lentil will do. Another star of our dish is the baby bella mushroom, which brings a robust flavor and texture. They are usually available in most supermarkets, but white mushrooms can be a suitable substitute if needed.

Ingredients for Zesty Lentil Spinach Salad

Black beluga lentils: These are tiny, black lentils that hold their shape when cooked and have a slightly earthy flavor.

Vegetable stock: Adds a depth of flavor to the lentils as they cook.

Olive oil: Used for sautéing the vegetables and as part of the salad dressing.

Baby bella mushroom: They have a deeper, earthier flavor than white mushrooms.

Broccoli florets: Adds a nice crunch and is packed with nutrients.

Red onion: Brings a sharp and slightly sweet flavor.

Garlic: Adds a savory depth of flavor.

Spinach: Gives the salad a fresh taste and is packed with nutrients.

Lemon juice and zest: Adds a bright, tangy flavor to the salad.

Feta cheese: Gives a tangy kick and creaminess to the salad.

One reader, Kata Moyer says:

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This zesty lentil spinach salad is a game-changer! The combination of flavors is simply divine. The lentils are perfectly cooked, and the zesty lemon adds a refreshing kick. The feta cheese brings it all together. It's a healthy and satisfying dish that I can't get enough of!

Kata Moyer

Techniques for Making Zesty Lentil Spinach Salad

How to cook lentils: Rinse the lentils with water in a fine-mesh strainer, picking out and discarding any little stones that may have snuck in there. Transfer the lentils to a medium saucepan, and stir in the stock. Cook over medium-high heat until the mixture reaches a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender. Drain and set aside.

How to sauté vegetables: Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and broccoli and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in additional olive oil, red onions, and garlic, and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Continue sautéing for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant and the veggies are cooked. Remove from the heat and set aside.

How to assemble the salad: In a large bowl, combine the cooked lentils, veggie mixture, spinach, lemon juice, and zest, remaining olive oil, and feta cheese. Toss to combine.

How to serve: Serve warm, garnished with extra feta cheese, if desired.

How To Make Zesty Lentil Spinach Salad

This spinach salad recipe comes with a fresh taste and fiber-rich properties from beluga lentils. Vegetarianism never tasted this good. Try it.

Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking: 25 minutes
Total: 30 minutes

Serves:

Ingredients

  • 1cupblack beluga lentils
  • 2 ½ cupsvegetable stock
  • 4Tbsp.olive oildivided
  • 8oz.baby bella mushroom
  • 3cupsbroccoli florets
  • ½ mediumred onion peeled and thinly-sliced
  • 4clovesgarlicpeeled and minced
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 4cupsbaby spinach
  • 1andlemon juice
  • 1lemon zest
  • ½ cupfeta cheeseor goat cheese, crumbles

Instructions

  1. Rinse the lentils with water in a fine-mesh strainer, picking out and discarding any little stones that may have snuck in there.  Transfer the lentils to a medium saucepan, and stir in the stock.  

  2. Cook over medium-high heat, until the mixture reaches a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender.  Drain, and set aside.

  3. Meanwhile, as the lentils are cooking, heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms and broccoli and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

  4. Stir in 1 additional tablespoon olive oil, red onions, and garlic, and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.  

  5. Continue sautéing for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant and the veggies are cooked. Remove from the heat and set aside.

  6. In a large bowl, combine the cooked lentils, veggie mixture, spinach, lemon juice, and zest, remaining olive oil, and feta cheese.  Toss to combine.

  7. Serve warm, garnished with extra feta cheese, if desired.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 663.43kcal
  • Fat: 43.64g
  • Saturated Fat: 24.06g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 14.97g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.42g
  • Carbohydrates: 37.67g
  • Fiber: 5.58g
  • Sugar: 8.34g
  • Protein: 34.13g
  • Cholesterol: 133.50mg
  • Sodium: 1435.02mg
  • Calcium: 806.88mg
  • Potassium: 736.30mg
  • Iron: 4.63mg
  • Vitamin A: 298.07µg
  • Vitamin C: 52.82mg

Pro Tip for Perfecting Your Salad

When sautéing the mushrooms and broccoli, it's important to not overcrowd the pan. Overcrowding can cause the vegetables to steam rather than sauté, resulting in a different texture and flavor. If necessary, sauté the vegetables in batches to ensure they all have enough room to cook properly. Additionally, when adding the spinach to the salad, try to toss it gently to avoid bruising the leaves. This will help maintain the fresh, vibrant color and texture of the spinach in your salad.

Time-Saving Tips for Preparing This Salad

Prep ahead: Cook the lentils and chop the vegetables in advance to save time when assembling the salad.

One-pot cooking: Consider using a multi-cooker to cook the lentils and vegetables simultaneously, streamlining the process.

Batch cooking: Make a larger quantity of the salad and store it in the fridge for quick and easy meals throughout the week.

Efficient chopping: Use a food processor to quickly chop the vegetables, saving time and effort.

Organized workspace: Keep all ingredients and utensils organized and within reach to streamline the cooking process.

Quick cleanup: Clean as you go to minimize the time spent on post-cooking cleanup.

Substitute Ingredients For Zesty Lentil Spinach Salad

  • black beluga lentils - Substitute with green lentils: Green lentils have a similar earthy flavor and texture to black beluga lentils, making them a suitable substitute in this recipe.

  • vegetable stock - Substitute with chicken stock: Chicken stock can add a savory depth of flavor to the salad, complementing the other ingredients well.

  • olive oil - Substitute with avocado oil: Avocado oil has a mild flavor and high smoke point, making it a versatile and healthy alternative for dressing the salad.

  • baby bella mushroom - Substitute with cremini mushrooms: Cremini mushrooms have a similar earthy flavor and texture to baby bella mushrooms, making them a suitable substitute in this recipe.

  • broccoli florets - Substitute with cauliflower florets: Cauliflower florets can provide a similar crunchy texture and absorb the flavors of the salad dressing well.

  • red onion - Substitute with shallots: Shallots have a milder flavor compared to red onions and can add a subtle sweetness to the salad.

  • garlic - Substitute with garlic powder: Garlic powder can be used as a convenient substitute for fresh garlic, providing a consistent garlic flavor throughout the salad.

  • kosher salt - Substitute with sea salt: Sea salt can provide a similar level of salinity and enhance the overall flavors of the salad.

  • black pepper - Substitute with white pepper: White pepper has a milder flavor compared to black pepper and can add a subtle heat to the salad without the visible specks.

  • baby spinach - Substitute with arugula: Arugula can provide a peppery and slightly bitter flavor, adding a unique twist to the salad.

  • lemon juice - Substitute with lime juice: Lime juice can provide a tangy and citrusy flavor, similar to lemon juice, while adding a refreshing twist to the salad.

  • lemon zest - Substitute with orange zest: Orange zest can provide a citrusy aroma and flavor, adding a vibrant and slightly sweet element to the salad.

  • feta cheese - Substitute with goat cheese: Goat cheese has a tangy and creamy texture, similar to feta, and can add a rich and savory note to the salad.

Presenting Your Zesty Salad

  1. Elevate the plating: When presenting the zesty lentil spinach salad, focus on creating an elegant and visually appealing presentation. Use fresh herbs and microgreens to add a pop of color and texture to the dish.

  2. Incorporate contrasting textures: Create a harmonious balance of textures by incorporating crunchy elements such as toasted nuts or crispy shallots to contrast with the tender lentils and vegetables.

  3. Highlight the freshness of the ingredients: Emphasize the freshness of the ingredients by arranging the salad in a way that showcases the vibrant colors of the spinach, broccoli, and mushrooms.

  4. Utilize elegant serving ware: Choose sophisticated serving ware that complements the upscale nature of the dish, such as porcelain plates or artisanal ceramic bowls.

  5. Incorporate artistic drizzling: Use a balsamic reduction or herb-infused oil to create artistic drizzles on the plate, adding a touch of finesse to the overall presentation.

  6. Focus on precision: Pay attention to the placement of each component, ensuring that the salad is meticulously arranged to demonstrate attention to detail and precision in plating.

  7. Emphasize the citrus zest: Incorporate the lemon zest as a finishing touch, sprinkling it delicately over the salad to add a burst of citrus aroma and flavor.

  8. Garnish with edible flowers: Elevate the presentation by garnishing the salad with delicate edible flowers for a visually stunning and refined touch.

Essential Tools for Making Lentil Spinach Salad

  • Saucepan: A saucepan is a deep cooking pan with a long handle and often a lid, used for boiling, stewing, or making sauces.
  • Fine-mesh strainer: A fine-mesh strainer is a kitchen tool with a fine, closely woven mesh that is used to strain liquids, sift dry ingredients, or remove solids from sauces.
  • Medium sauté pan: A medium sauté pan is a versatile kitchen tool used for sautéing, frying, and cooking a wide variety of dishes. It has a flat bottom and relatively tall, straight sides.
  • Large bowl: A large bowl is a kitchen essential for mixing, tossing, and serving salads, as well as for preparing batters and doughs.
  • Vegetable peeler: A vegetable peeler is a handheld kitchen tool with a sharp blade used to peel the outer skin or rind from vegetables and fruits.
  • Lemon zester: A lemon zester is a kitchen tool designed to remove the zest, or outermost peel, from citrus fruits. It is used to add flavor to dishes with the citrus oils found in the zest.
  • Juicer: A juicer is a kitchen appliance used to extract juice from fruits and vegetables. It can be manual or electric and is designed to separate the juice from the pulp.
  • Cutting board: A cutting board is a flat, sturdy surface used for cutting, slicing, and chopping ingredients. It helps protect countertops and provides a safe, stable surface for food preparation.
  • Chef's knife: A chef's knife is a versatile, all-purpose kitchen knife with a broad, tapered blade that is used for slicing, dicing, chopping, and mincing a wide variety of ingredients.
  • Measuring cups and spoons: Measuring cups and spoons are essential tools for accurately measuring dry and liquid ingredients in cooking and baking recipes. They come in various sizes and are used to ensure precise measurements.

Storing and Freezing Your Leftover Salad

  • To store leftover zesty lentil spinach salad, allow it to cool completely to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3-4 days.
  • When ready to enjoy the stored salad, give it a good stir and taste for seasoning. Add a splash of lemon juice or a drizzle of olive oil if needed to refresh the flavors.
  • For longer storage, you can freeze the salad. However, keep in mind that the texture of the spinach and broccoli may change slightly upon thawing.
  • To freeze, transfer the cooled salad to a freezer-safe container or resealable bag. Remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.
  • Label the container with the date and freeze for up to 2-3 months.
  • When ready to eat the frozen salad, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Once thawed, give the salad a good stir and add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of feta cheese to revive the flavors and texture.
  • Note: It's best to add the feta cheese just before serving, as it may become slightly crumbly after freezing and thawing.

Reheating Your Leftover Salad

  • To reheat leftover zesty lentil spinach salad, start by placing the desired portion in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel to help retain moisture and prevent the lentils and vegetables from drying out. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through. Stir the salad halfway through the reheating process to ensure even heating.

  • Alternatively, you can reheat the salad in a skillet over medium heat. Add a small amount of olive oil or vegetable broth to the pan to prevent sticking and add moisture. Stir the salad frequently while reheating for 3-5 minutes, or until it reaches your desired temperature. This method allows you to refresh the flavors and textures of the vegetables and lentils.

  • If you prefer a cold salad, you can enjoy the leftover zesty lentil spinach salad straight from the refrigerator. However, to enhance the flavors, let the salad sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving. This will allow the olive oil and lemon juice to become more aromatic and the vegetables to soften slightly.

  • To refresh the leftover salad, consider adding a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, or a sprinkle of fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro. These additions will brighten the flavors and make the salad taste more vibrant. You can also add some fresh baby spinach or arugula to the leftover salad for added texture and a pop of green.

  • If the feta cheese has become dry or crumbly after storage, you can refresh it by crumbling a small amount of fresh feta over the reheated salad. This will add a tangy, salty bite to the dish and improve the overall texture.

Interesting Fact About Lentil Spinach Salad

The lentils in this zesty lentil spinach salad are a great source of plant-based protein and fiber, making it a nutritious and filling meal. Lentils are also rich in iron, which is essential for transporting oxygen throughout the body. Additionally, spinach is packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, vitamin A, and folate, which are important for overall health. This salad is a delicious way to incorporate these nutrient-dense ingredients into your diet.

Is Making Lentil Spinach Salad at Home Cost-Effective?

The zesty lentil spinach salad is a cost-effective and nutritious option for a household. The combination of lentils, spinach, and broccoli provides a good source of protein and essential nutrients. The use of affordable ingredients such as lentils, vegetables, and olive oil makes it a budget-friendly choice. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people is around $15. The overall verdict for this recipe is 9/10, considering its nutritional value, flavor, and affordability.

Is This Lentil and Spinach Salad Healthy?

This zesty lentil spinach salad is a nutritious and well-balanced dish, packed with healthy ingredients. The black beluga lentils provide a good source of plant-based protein, fiber, and essential minerals like iron and folate. The vegetables, including baby bella mushrooms, broccoli, red onion, and garlic, offer a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The baby spinach is rich in vitamin K, vitamin A, and iron. The olive oil used in the recipe is a healthy source of monounsaturated fats, while the lemon juice and zest add a refreshing twist and provide vitamin C. The feta cheese contributes to the dish's calcium content, although it also adds some saturated fat and sodium.

To make this salad even healthier, consider the following suggestions:

  • Reduce the amount of feta cheese or opt for a lower-fat variety to decrease the saturated fat content
  • Add more colorful vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes or bell peppers, to increase the variety of nutrients and antioxidants
  • Include a handful of chopped nuts or seeds, like almonds or pumpkin seeds, for an extra boost of healthy fats, protein, and fiber
  • Experiment with different types of lentils or a mix of legumes to diversify the nutrient profile
  • Use a low-sodium vegetable stock to reduce the overall sodium content of the dish

Editor's Take on This Zesty Salad Recipe

This zesty lentil spinach salad is a delightful combination of earthy lentils, vibrant spinach, and flavorful veggies, all brought together with a zesty lemon dressing. The dish offers a satisfying mix of textures and flavors, from the tender lentils to the crisp broccoli and the creamy feta cheese. The lemon adds a refreshing brightness that ties everything together. It's a nutritious and delicious salad that can be enjoyed as a main dish or a side. Overall, it's a well-balanced and flavorful recipe that is sure to impress!

Enhance Your Zesty Lentil Spinach Salad with These Unique Side Dishes:

Roasted Garlic Asparagus: Tender asparagus spears roasted to perfection with a hint of garlic and olive oil.
Savory Quinoa Pilaf: Fluffy quinoa mixed with sautéed onions, bell peppers, and a blend of savory herbs and spices.
Citrus-infused Grilled Chicken: Juicy grilled chicken marinated in a zesty citrus blend, perfect for pairing with the lentil spinach salad.
Berrylicious Fruit Salad: A refreshing mix of seasonal berries tossed in a light citrus dressing for a burst of sweetness to complement the salad.
Creamy Avocado Cucumber Soup: A creamy and refreshing chilled soup made with ripe avocados, crisp cucumbers, and a touch of tangy yogurt.

Similar Salad Recipes to Try

Savory Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Bowl: This hearty quinoa bowl is packed with roasted vegetables and savory flavors, making it a perfect healthy and satisfying meal.
Spicy Mango Chicken Tacos: These spicy mango chicken tacos are a delicious twist on traditional tacos, with a sweet and spicy mango salsa that pairs perfectly with the tender chicken.
Creamy Coconut Curry Soup: This creamy coconut curry soup is a comforting and flavorful dish, filled with aromatic spices and creamy coconut milk for a satisfying meal.

Appetizer and Dessert Suggestions for Lentil Spinach Salad

Appetizers:
Savory Stuffed Mushrooms: Impress your guests with these delectable savory stuffed mushrooms. Filled with a flavorful mixture of herbs, cheese, and breadcrumbs, these bite-sized appetizers are sure to be a hit at any gathering.
Crispy Spinach Fritters: These crispy spinach fritters are a delightful way to start any meal. The combination of fresh spinach, aromatic spices, and a crispy coating make these fritters a perfect appetizer for any occasion.
Desserts:
Decadent Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and velvety chocolate mousse that will satisfy your sweet tooth. The smooth and creamy texture of this dessert is perfect for any special occasion or a cozy night in.
Tangy Lemon Tart: Savor the tangy and refreshing flavor of a lemon tart. The zesty lemon filling paired with a buttery crust creates a delightful contrast that will leave your taste buds craving for more.

Why trust this Zesty Lentil Spinach Salad:

This recipe offers a wholesome and nutritious meal featuring black beluga lentils packed with protein and fiber. The combination of fresh baby spinach and broccoli florets provides essential vitamins and minerals. The use of feta cheese adds a delightful creaminess, while the lemon juice and zest infuse a burst of citrusy flavor. With the addition of baby bella mushrooms and red onion, this dish promises a symphony of textures and tastes. The careful selection of ingredients and the detailed cooking instructions ensure a delightful and satisfying experience for anyone seeking a flavorful and nourishing meal.

Share your thoughts on the Zesty Lentil Spinach Salad recipe in the Recipe Sharing forum and let us know if you have any tips or variations to enhance this delightful dish!
FAQ:
How long does it take to cook the lentils?
It takes about 20 to 25 minutes to cook the lentils until they are tender.
Can I use a different type of lentils for this recipe?
Yes, you can use other types of lentils, but the cooking time may vary. Adjust the cooking time according to the type of lentils you use.
Can I make this salad ahead of time?
Absolutely! This salad can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. Just wait to add the spinach until you're ready to serve to keep it fresh.
Can I substitute the feta cheese with another type of cheese?
Yes, you can substitute feta cheese with goat cheese, blue cheese, or even shredded Parmesan, depending on your preference.
How should I store the leftovers?
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Just keep in mind that the spinach may wilt slightly, but the flavors will continue to meld together.

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